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Looking down Lynn Street in Rosslyn toward Georgetown, in the snow (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 10 a.m.) A frigid night is on tap and the refreezing of melting snow could make roads and sidewalks extra slippery.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a Special Weather Statement about the ice concerns overnight:

…Icy Patches Likely Overnight Into Tuesday Morning… Falling temperatures and water from melted snow will result in patchy ice on area roads overnight into early Tuesday. This will be especially problematic on untreated roadways. Motorists should exercise extra caution overnight into early Tuesday, and assume that any surfaces which look wet or slushy may in fact be icy.

Adding to the driving danger in Arlington: many neighborhood roads have yet to be touched by a snow plow. As of Monday night, the county remained in “Phase 2” of its snow removal plan, during which crews focus on primary and secondary roads only.

Arlington snow plow map as of 10:15 p.m. The roads in red have not yet been plowed. (via Arlington County)

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says that crews will “work throughout the night to clear roadways,” but the county said Monday night what some had suspected: that Covid has reduced snow plow staffing.

“The County’s snow removal is currently impacted by COVID-19 related staffing shortages,” the county said. “Roads are being cleared as quickly and safely as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

Monday’s winter storm was one for the record books.

The 6.9 inches of accumulation recorded at Reagan National Airport is a new official D.C. record for Jan. 3 and the first major snowfall event in about three years. In Arlington, storm spotters reported between 6.5 and 9.2 inches of snow, with higher amounts generally to the south.

The storm’s impact will be felt Tuesday and perhaps beyond.

As previously reported, Arlington Public Schools will be closed while trash collection has been cancelled for both Monday and Tuesday. Additionally, Arlington County government offices, recreation centers, vaccination clinics, and — as of Tuesday morning — Covid testing booths will be closed on Tuesday.

The federal government will be opening on a three hour delay on Tuesday, the Office of Personnel Management said tonight.

While unnecessary travel is being discouraged, particularly overnight, limited bus service is now available.

After being suspended for most of the day, some Metrobus service started a gradual return as of 6 p.m. ART bus service in Arlington is currently expected to be restored at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

It’s going to be a cold night, meanwhile, for more than a thousand households around Arlington.

As of 10:30 p.m., 1,240 homes and businesses were without power in Arlington, according to Dominion. It could be days before the outages, scattered across the county, are fully resolved.

“Please prepare for the possibility of being without power for multiple days,” power company spokeswoman Peggy Fox said tonight. “This is a multi-day restoration effort.”

Dominion reported more than 90,000 customers without power across Northern Virginia — and even more statewide — Monday night.

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(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) The snowflakes are tapering off across Arlington, but police, firefighters and plow crews are still hard at work.

The heavy, wet snow has made vehicle travel treacherous and nearly impossible in certain hilly parts of the county. Even frequently-plowed highways and main routes like I-395, Route 50 and Columbia Pike were impassable at points during the storm.

Power outages have continued to increase, exceeding 4,500 in Arlington as of 2 p.m. amid numerous reports of falling trees and branches.

Transit issues extend beyond Arlington Transit and Metrobus service being suspended. Blue Line service as suspended between the Pentagon and Rosslyn shortly before 1 p.m. due to a fallen tree on the tracks.

As of 12:30 p.m., Reagan National Airport was under a ground stop, with arrivals and departures mostly paused and numerous flights cancelled.

In addition to schools and Arlington County government offices and facilities, many businesses around Arlington have closed for the day. Among the restaurants not serving tonight are Pupatella Pizza’s two Arlington locations.

The winter storm has exceeded accumulation predictions across the region and the state — and caused gridlock and dozens of crashes on the roads.

“Since 12:01 a.m. Monday (Jan. 3), Virginia State Police emergency communications centers across the state have fielded over 2,000 total calls for service,” VSP said this afternoon. “Of those 2,000 calls, 72 are ongoing traffic crashes and 69 disabled vehicles that VSP troopers are still on scene with or responding to as of 3:30 p.m.

VSP’s Fairfax Division, which serves the inner Northern Virginia suburbs, reported 143 disabled vehicles and 68 crashes as of 3:30 p.m.

https://twitter.com/JWPascale/status/1478063158736691203

“State police is still asking people to avoid driving, unless absolutely unnecessary,” the agency said. “The drive is not worth the risk of a crash, getting stuck, injury to your/passenger, or the cost of a repair.”

With the snow tapering off, reports suggest 6-9 inches of accumulation in parts of Arlington.

As of noon, Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says it is in “Phase 2” of its snow response, treating primary and secondary roads while neighborhood streets remain mostly snow-covered.

VDOT, meanwhile, says it is preparing for a possible refreeze overnight, which could lead to extremely hazardous driving conditions Tuesday morning.

“VDOT Northern Virginia crews will remain on duty this afternoon and overnight to push accumulation, as well as to treat roads overnight for the refreeze of any melted precipitation to the pavement,” the state transportation department said in a mid-afternoon update. “Overnight tonight and tomorrow morning, limit nonessential trips if possible, and remain keenly alert to icy spots if traveling.”

This afternoon, Arlington Public Schools joined Fairfax County and other major D.C. area school systems in announcing that there would be no school on Tuesday.

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(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) In the battle between the snow plows and the snow in Arlington, the snow is currently winning.

Heavy, accumulating snow covers roads around Arlington, outpacing the rate by which it can be cleared. Snow crews were reportedly unable to pretreat roads, due to the storm starting as rain.

The traffic map around Arlington is a sea of red, with numerous crashes, cars stalled out on hills and other drivers moving slowly even on main thoroughfares.

“Today’s snowfall is likely to be heaviest in late morning, with low visibility and rapid accumulation,” the county said in an Arlington Alert message just after 9 a.m. “Please stay home if you can and stay off the roads.”

Even Route 50, I-66 and I-395, a focus of VDOT plow crews, remain largely snow-covered with several reported crashes and slow traffic. Shortly after 10:15 a.m., Arlington County police were told by dispatchers to avoid I-395 entirely, due to “gridlock.”

Among the places where problems are being reported:

  • Police are blocking westbound Columbia Pike at N. George Mason Drive, prior to the hill
  • Westbound Route 50 is reportedly impassable at the hill past Courthouse and again at N. Park Drive, where cars are stuck “all over the road”
  • The steep hill on N. Courthouse Road itself is said to be “fubar”
  • “A bunch of cars sideways” on N. Glebe Road between Military Road and Chain Bridge, which is now closed. There’s also a report of a downed tree.
  • Cars having trouble getting up the hill on S. Glebe Road near Shirlington Road
  • Police have also been requested to Shirlington Road and Arlington Mill Drive in the Shirlington area. Shirlington Circle may be shut down, according to scanner traffic.
  • The intersection of N. Rhodes Street and 14th Street N. is reportedly “littered with cars” that have been abandoned by drivers who got stuck on the hill
  • S. Arlington Ridge Ridge Road is blocked between 23rd and 28th streets due to two large trees down across the roadway
  • Numerous issues have been reported along Langston Blvd (Route 29) including a stuck tractor trailer at N. Scott Street

The Arlington County Fire Department has declared a snow emergency, according to scanner traffic, affecting how it responds to calls.

Trash and recycling collection was “suspended due to deteriorating conditions” as of 7 a.m. ART service, meanwhile, was suspended just after 9 a.m. Metrobus service was temporarily suspended around 9:30 a.m.

A brief power outage was reported in at least one portion of the county. More outages are possible with heavy wet snow potentially toppling branches and trees.

More via social media:

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(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Arlington is preparing for what could be the most snow the county and the region has seen in more than two years.

The region is likely to see at least 4-8 inches, with snow starting to fall Sunday morning, according to Capital Weather Gang. This afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for the region.

From NWS:

WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM LATE SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT…

* WHAT…HEAVY SNOW POSSIBLE. POTENTIAL FOR 5 OR MORE INCHES OF SNOW.

* WHERE… THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND, CENTRAL AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA, AND THE EASTERN PANHANDLE OF WEST VIRGINIA.

* WHEN…FROM LATE SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS FOR UPDATES ON THIS SITUATION.

State and county agencies have already started preparing the roads for the wintery weather.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services tells ARLnow that they began pre-treating streets with brine — a salt and water mixture — yesterday.

That pre-treatment process is continuing today. Full deployment of the county’s snow plow teams will start early Sunday, a DES spokesperson says, with 92 drivers and 46 trucks equipped with salt spreaders and plows.

There will be staggered shifts the operations center due to COVID-19 protocols.

DES is asking residents to re-familiarize themselves with snow removal processes, which includes plowing only after snow depth hits at least two inches. In addition, they are requesting residents who park on narrow roads to put vehicles elsewhere so that plows can make their way through.

In fact, they are making a competition out of it and are asking folks to post pictures of their creative parking skills.

 

A number of major Arlington roads are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, including Lee Highway, Arlington Blvd, Glebe Road, and others.

VDOT spokesperson Ellen Kamilakis tells ARLnow that residents should be seeing brine tankers out right now. The current cold and clear conditions are perfect for spraying brine.

“The goal is for it to evaporate and leave the salt residue, those white brine lines,” she says. “Today is perfect to be doing it. People are going to be seeing them everywhere.”

She cautions that they often work in pairs, a tanker and a trailing vehicle, and move slowly. The crews make a lot of U-turns, she says, so drivers should avoid getting between them.

Kamilakis says that there are about 130 trucks deployed right now covering Arlington County and the interstates that cut through the county.

With the region having not seen snowfall like what is being predicted in a while, she says that residents may “not have their snow legs yet” and have forgotten what it’s like to drive in the snow.

Kamilakis cautions folks to monitor the forecast, drive carefully and slowly, and brake earlier. If VDOT puts out the call to stay off the roads, to do so.

“If we’re asking you to stay off the roads, it’s serious enough for us to ask that,” she said.

Another thing Arlington residents should take note of: the county’s snow removal ordinance, which requires that sidewalks be shoveled within 24 hours of the end of a snow event with six inches or less of accumulation, or 36 hours for storms that drop more than six inches.

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Morning Notes

ANC and Addison Alternatives Announced — “Metro will offer free shuttle bus service and other travel alternatives during the spring closure of Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery stations on the Blue and Silver lines, the transit agency announced today. Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery will be closed from Saturday, Feb. 13 through Sunday, May 23, 2021, to allow for construction.” [WMATA]

Business Buys Ballroom Building, Before Bar by Beer Boss Brings Big Bucks — “Monument Realty has acquired the former Clarendon Ballroom as the owners of popular beer garden The Lot plan to open a temporary event venue inside the building on Arlington County’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. MR 3185 Wilson Retail LLC, an affiliate of the District-based commercial real estate developer, acquired the building at 3185 Wilson Blvd. Dec. 11 for about $6.7 million, according to Arlington County land records.” [Washington Business Journal]

COVID Concerns Cause County Crew Changes — “You can now add snow removal to the long list of things that have had to change because of COVID-19. ‘This year, what makes it different than many other years, is the threat of COVID and really the concern of just keeping the employees safe, keeping them distanced enough to where they can do their work but also go home safely,’ said Jeremy Hassan, the chief operating engineer for Arlington County’s Water, Sewer, and Streets Bureau.” [Fox 5]

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Update at 3:30 p.m. — All Arlington Public Schools will be closed Monday, the school system just announced.

Earlier: Arlington County snow removal crews have started plowing neighborhood streets as the snowiest D.C. area storm since 2016 starts to wind down.

The county’s Dept. of Environmental Services announced just before 1 p.m. that it had entered “Phase 3” of its snow response, during which crews are “working to widen passage on primary and secondary arterial” streets while “beginning to treat/plow residential streets.”

Crews across Northern Virginia worked throughout the night to keep roads drivable, though officials cautioned against unnecessary travel due to slick conditions.

Virginia State Police said troopers in its Fairfax Division, which includes Arlington, responded to 34 crashes and 52 disabled vehicles since midnight. Statewide, more than 230 crashes were handled by VSP during that timeframe.

“Drivers be advised — looks can be and are deceiving!” state police said. “Highways may appear to be clear, but slick and icy conditions still exist.”

“On the second day of winter weather across northern Virginia, drivers are asked to continue to avoid unnecessary travel for crews to safely clear accumulating snow,” VDOT urged.

In Arlington, all Dept. of Parks and Recreation classes and activities in county and school facilities were canceled today. All county fields and community centers were closed and all other activities at public schools were canceled. Arlington Transit buses, meanwhile, are operating on a limited schedule.

As of 2 p.m., Arlington Public Schools had not yet announced its status for Monday. Another 2-3 inches could fall between 1 p.m. today and just after midnight, according to the National Weather Service, and a Winter Storm Warning remains in effect.

Despite the hazards, the snow produced picturesque scenes around Arlington. More snowy scenes from around town, via social media:

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Morning Notes

Foggy commute on the trails (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Police Warn of Jury Duty Scam — The Arlington County Police Department is again warning about a jury duty telephone scam targeting Arlington residents. The fraud involves a caller claiming to be a law enforcement officer and claiming that the call recipient failed to appear for jury duty. The scammer then demands the payment of a fine over the phone. [Arlington County]

Plow Plows Into BusUpdated at 2 p.m. — One lane of Lee Highway was blocked for a period of time during last night’s evening rush hour after a minor accident involving an VDOT snow plow and an ART bus. [Twitter]

Vihstadt Speaks Out Against Gondola — County Board member John Vihstadt is not a fan of the potential gondola from Rosslyn to Georgetown. “Now is not the time to spend upwards of $90 million on a Disney-like gondola to Georgetown while current modes of public transit need significant new investment,” Vihstadt said earlier this week. [InsideNova]

Crystal House Renovated — Crystal House is a big apartment complex in Crystal City that has been around for a long time. Chances are, someone you know has lived there at one point or another. The 825-unit complex recently completed the first phase of a major renovation project and is showing it off via video and press release. [PR Newswire, YouTube]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Snow-covered Custis Trail (photo via @BikeArlington)Starting this winter, Arlington County says it will be the first jurisdiction in the D.C. metro area to have a comprehensive policy of clearing some mixed-use trails during snowstorms.

The county announced today that it will start clearing 10 miles of trails at the same time as priority arterial roads. The Department of Parks and Recreation has cleared trails around the county before, but this will be the first time the highly-used trails will be plowed during and immediately after snowstorms.

The trails that will be cleared are:

  • 5.2 miles of the Custis Trail, from the W&OD Trail to N. Lynn Street
  • 2.25 miles of the Four Mile Run Trail from Reagan National Airport to Shirlington Road
  • 1.25 miles of the Bluemont Junction Trail from Fairfax Drive in Ballston to the W&OD Trail
  • and 0.4 miles of the Route 110 trail from the Iwo Jima Memorial to Arlington National Cemetery

The county does not own two of the most highly-used trails in Arlington — the W&OD Trail and the Mount Vernon Trail. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns the W&OD and the National Park Service owns the Mount Vernon Trail. For updates during snow storms on the status of those and other trails around the county, cyclists and walkers should refer to the BikeArlington forums, the county says.

The county’s Dept. of Environmental Services is also starting a pilot program this winter to clear the county’s protected bike lanes of snow using specialized equipment. As more protected bike lanes come to the county — such lanes are in the design phase for S. Eads Street in Crystal City — DES is requesting more funding for the program for future winters.

According to WashCycle, a protected bike lane could be also coming to Wilson Blvd between Rosslyn and Courthouse. The bike advocacy blog says the cycle track is “in design and evaluation right now.”

Residents can monitor the progress of snow removal from roadways around the county by visiting Arlington’s snow and ice website, which has links to view the 83 traffic cameras around the county, and posts updates during snow removal processes.

DES received a $300,000 budget boost from the County Board this past spring, earmarked to allow trail plowing, according to the Washington Post. Cyclists represent about 1 percent of those who commute to or from work in Arlington County, survey data shows.

Arlington County has 92 drivers and 46 trucks among its snow-clearing resources. The drivers received computer-based simulator training to prepare for this winter season and potential safety hazards, the county said in a press release.

This winter, weather forecasters are predicting colder temperatures and more snow than normal.

File photo

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(Updated at 10:00 a.m.) Shortly after being caught on video driving the wrong way down Military Road — a story first reported on ARLnow.com — an Arlington County snow plow driver ran a stop sign and caused a multi-vehicle accident, according to police.

The accident happened at 9:18 a.m. on Monday. The 51-year-old plow driver was heading southbound on S. Monroe Street when he ran a stop sign at 18th Street S. and struck an eastbound Toyota Highlander on the driver’s side rear panel, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The Highlander then struck two parked cars.

“There were no reported injuries as a result of the accident,” Sternbeck told ARLnow.com. The driver was cited by officers for disregarding a stop sign.

The accident happened less than two hours after local filmmaker Jason Berry said he was nearly run off the road by the plow, which was driving the wrong way down hilly, twisting Military Road. At Tuesday’s Arlington County Board meeting, Board Chair Jay Fisette encouraged County Manager Barbara Donnellan to take disciplinary action.

“I think all of us saw that video and thought, ‘oh my God,” Fisette said. “That was horrible. It’s inconceivable to me that there’s a justification for driving a [snow plow] down the wrong side of the road. It was quite amazing to watch the video. We are just fortunate that nothing terrible… came of that particular driving experience.”

Donnellan reported that the driver was working a midnight-to-noon shift and called the incident “unfortunate,” “dangerous” and a “near miss situation.”

“This is completely unacceptable behavior for snow plowing. it is a violation of our Arlington county driver policy and training,” Donnellan said. “As soon as the county learned of the unacceptable behavior we identified the responsible driver and immediately removed him from duty.”

“The investigation is underway,” Donnellan continued. “We’re taking appropriate action with this employee. A full range of disciplinary actions is always on the table for serious safety violations. Our safety policy strives for zero incidents.”

Donnellan noted that the county also received calls thanking snow removal crews for their tireless work during this snowy winter.

“It’s easy to focus on one driver, on one day, but we also have many, many drivers who are safe, courteous and do great work too,” Donnellan said. “My many thanks goes out to staff who works incredibly hard during these weather events to keep our community safe and to keep our streets, trails and sidewalks clear.”

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(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) An Arlington County snow plow was spotted driving the wrong way on Military Road today, and part of the incident was caught on video.

Jason Berry, a local filmmaker and entrepreneur, says he encountered the snow plow head on while driving down Military Road in the Donaldson Run neighborhood around 7:30 a.m.

“I came over a hill and headed right towards me was this snow plow in my lane,” Berry told ARLnow.com via email. “The driver did not move or slow down, I was forced out of my lane into the deeper snow in between lanes. I temporarily lost control of my car and managed to use the e-brake to slide to a stop.”

“I then was facing the other direction in the other lane so I proceeded to catch back up to the plow and that is where the video starts,” Berry continued. “The plow is seen driving in the wrong lane THROUGH an intersection (of Military and Marcey Road), which is at the crest of a blind hill.”

Berry, 44, said he has “never seen such a brazen act of indifference” on the part of a snow plow driver while living in Arlington and, previously, in snowy Rochester, N.Y.

Arlington County says the plow driver was not following proper procedures.

“This is completely unacceptable behavior for snow plowing and it was in violation of Arlington County’s plow driver practices and training,” Dave Hundelt, a manager at Arlington’s Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau, told ARLnow.com via email just after 12:30 p.m.

Snow plow accident on Route 50 (Photo courtesy @ATrombs)“As soon as the County learned of the unacceptable behavior, we identified the driver and removed him from duty,” Hundelt said. “We will be taking appropriate action with this employee. Safety is a priority for the County, and we encourage any driver issues or concerns to be reported to the police.”

In a separate incident, another snow plow — a VDOT contractor, according to a department spokeswoman — became disabled after it ran up on the center divider on Route 50 near Glebe Road this morning. No word yet on how that happened.

Video (top) courtesy Jason Berry. Photo (bottom) courtesy @ATrombs.

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Snow 3/3/14(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Arlington has largely wrapped up its snowplowing effort following Monday’s snowstorm.

As of last night residential roads were “essentially plowed,” with the exception of some streets that were “packed down ice after the cold temperatures,” according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.

“Driving conditions are stable, and residents should drive with care,” Mincher said. “Several snowplows are out working this morning on reported requests or any issues with schools. Plows have ceased active street-to-street plowing, and we are applying salt or sand in areas with significant need such as hills.”

County crews — more than 40 trucks — were in “full snow mode,” plowing and treating Arlington’s nearly 1,000 lane miles of roadway, from midnight Sunday to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night, according to Mincher.

A high temperature in the mid-40s and plenty of sunshine today is expected to continue to melt the snow, slush and ice that remains on local streets.

File photo

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